Inclusivity: a fundamental workplace right

23 August 2021

CQUniversity work and employment expert Associate Professor Linda Colley is calling on all workplaces to be inclusive - as we lead into Wear it Purple Day on Friday.

'People should feel safe and accepted in their workplace'' Assoc. Prof. Colley says.

'This should be a fundamental workplace right and it is the ethical thing for any organisation to do.'

Wear it Purple Day is an international movement that aims to promote supportive' safe' empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people.

CQU has been a supporter of the movement for many years' actively encouraging its staff and students to wear purple on the day.

Assoc. Prof. Colley says that while symbolic events such as Wear it Purple Day are a good start for workplaces to embrace inclusivity' inclusivity needs to be built into all other organisational activities.

'Look at language used'' she explains.

'I can remember a time when everything in organisations was expressed in masculine terms and the range of emotions I felt about being so excluded.

'So the next step is to create more inclusive pronouns. Encourage use of they rather than he or she. Or encourage explicit use of pronouns by everyone' such as she/her' which regularizes that we should not make assumptions about gender identity.'

Assoc. Prof. Colley says looking at your company or business policies was a good starting point.

'Ensure that they are gender inclusive and provide guidance to managers on how to both avoid discrimination but more than that' to be actively inclusive'' she says.

'Look at other organisational processes' such as making sure there are non-binary options on payroll forms and leave forms and surveys.'

Assoc. Prof. Colley also suggests looking at your training to ensure all diversity and anti-discrimination training programs include LGBTIQ+ and are used to educate staff and managers.

'Think about your office environment. Is there scope for gender-neutral bathrooms' which make perfect sense for everyone.

'And if you are not sure' ask them. Maybe start an LGBTIQ+ network' for feedback on what is needed and for an ongoing conversation about how your organisation is tracking.'

CQUniversity Ally Program coordinator Dr Gemma Mann says she is proud to work for an organisation that takes inclusivity seriously.

"At CQU we strive to eliminate discrimination' to treat everyone equally and to celebrate and encourage diversity' in particular for people who identify as LGBTIQ+'' she says.

'As an out and proud gay woman' I encourage everyone in the community to get behind this initiative and Wear it Purple this Friday to show your support for rainbow young people.

'By doing so' you will not only be fostering connection and inclusion' but showing all rainbow young people that you see them' you hear them' you accept them.'

Assoc. Prof. Colley says that being an inclusive business had many organisational benefits.

'People who feel valued and accepted are more productive and more committed to their organisations' and more likely to be part of a cohesive team'' she says.

'Conversely' people who have to hide their identity or who experience discrimination feel stress and other negative effects' which affect productivity and intention to stay.'